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Expanding Your Creative Repertoire

Expanding Your Creative Repertoire

Eric Maisel

Dear Dr. Maisel: I have a certain style and I’m pretty comfortable doing what I currently do. But I also have the itch to stretch and try some new things. Do you have any suggestions for how I might expand my repertoire?

Lionel F., Detroit

Thanks, Lionel.

There may be some new creative projects that you want to begin or some new ways of marketing and promoting yourself that you know would be smart to attempt but something seems to be holding you back. Here are ten tips for expanding your repertoire of creative projects and/or self-promotional efforts.

1. Know what you currently do

Because our lives rush along, providing us with no chance to catch up with ourselves, we often don’t really know what we’ve been attempting or accomplishing. When was the last time you had a conversation with yourself about what sort of art you’re making or what sort of marketing efforts you’re attempting? It’s harder to know what new things to try if you don’t know what current things you’re doing. Settle in and spend real time discerning your current situation.

2. Detach from the idea of “one way”

In part because it reduces our experience of anxiety, we often decide to do things one way—paint one sort of painting, market in one particular way—and then refuse to think about or discount the desirability of other art or marketing efforts that we might make. Maybe we think that only the gallery scene is for us and that marketing our art online is beneath our dignity. Try to let go of the idea that there is just one way to do things and find the courage to investigate other ways of making art and marketing art, even those that at first glance look completely uncongenial.

3. Investigate your dislikes

If you dislike realistic painting, why do you dislike it? If you dislike abstract painting, why do you dislike it? If you dislike talking to gallery owners, why do you dislike those interactions? If you dislike studio visits, why do you dislike them? We often make snap judgments about our likes and dislikes and subsequently never investigate those like and dislikes again, responding instead with a knee-jerk reaction. Take a good, hard look at those things you claim to dislike and see if they really are so unlikeable.

Next: Confront Your Fears →


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